At our annual conference last weekend with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, we asked teachers to reflect on what impact the WMWP has had on their professional and personal lives. Here are some of the responses, which demonstrate the power of being connected to a strong network of teachers and colleagues who value not only writing, but also all aspects of teaching, and who reach out to support and encourage others in the WMWP network.
Here is the presentation from my keynote address given on Saturday at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project Best Practices Conference at the University of Massachusetts. We also captured it on video but I have not yet gotten around to the editing of that footage. Here, you can at least see some of the themes I was tracking as I talked about the literate lives of our students outside, as well as inside, of our school, and how technology is becoming a part of that fabric of reading, writing, speaking/listening, and the mechanics of writing.
I am really looking forward to the Western Massachusetts Writing Project‘s annual conference today, where I have been asked to give a keynote address on digital literacies (which is our inquiry theme this year). This was the teaser that I had made a few weeks ago, as I began to think about the areas that I wanted to explore in my keynote.
We’re going to have video cameras about, too, as we try to connect our conference to the National Day on Writing’s theme of “What I Write” and we are going to feature a group of WMWP alumns as they talk about the influence of the National Writing Project on their lives as teachers and writers, and we will film the keynote, too. (Usually, I am the one filming someone else).
During an upcoming keynote address for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, I am going to be sharing out our Dream Scene digital storytelling project as an example of bringing media and technology into the classroom in a meaningful and powerful way, with writing still at the heart of what students are doing. I’ve been working on a visual depiction of the process that students go through as they develop their Dream Scene project.
See what you think:
And here is our collection of published dreams (so far):
I’ve been doing some thinking work around a keynote address coming up around digital literacies with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. I made this video as a sort of teaser, trying to lay out some ideas and flesh out some direction for what I want to speak about — which is how the digital literacies of kids can be connected to the literacies we value in school but we need some bridges between reading/writing in school and reading/writing in their lives.
Our writing project is shifting to an electronic format for our newsletter. It’s nothing fancy in terms of design, but is familiar in format to our folks and provides important information about what is happening around the WMWP world, including an upcoming conference (where I am the keynote speaker). WMWP Fall 2012 Newsletter
Peace (in the news),
If you are in the Western Massachusetts area, I invite you to consider coming to our Western Massachusetts Writing Project event next month called Best Practices. The theme running through many of the sessions is digital literacy (which is our inquiry idea for WMWP this year). I am honored to have been asked to give a keynote address at the event, and I will be exploring the ways that technology and digital literacies are part of the lives of young people, and how we as educators can recognize and tap into those ideas for learning.
See the program: WMWP Best Practices 2012 Program
You can register online at the WMWP website.
Peace (in the practice),
As one of the editors and writers in Teaching the New Writing, I thought it might be time to step back and reflect a bit on how the book is holding up against time. In other words, do the chapters by classroom teachers writing about how technology may or may not be changing their teaching of writing (in a culture of standardized testing and assessment) still hold relevance for teachers?
I know such reflection is a bit self-serving, given my role as an editor and writer, but I genuinely wondered about it. So I perused the book once more and decided to just start talking as a video reflection.
In the end, I conclude that there are some chapters that still can be very important to teachers considering or using technology. A few pieces don’t quite stand the test of time. And I think the question of what does writing look like in a digital age is still up for grabs. Is technology changing the way we write, and therefore, the way we teach writing?
Our inquiry theme of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project in the coming year will be “digital composition” and yesterday, our leadership board and assorted members (including our WMWP Technology Team) began mapping out some ideas to keep that theme working throughout the year. Our hope is to highlight the ways that technology is impacting or changing our perceptions of writing, and how to help teachers see the change and be part of it. Here are some of the ideas we are chatting about and planning for:
We’ll be using the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site as our “text” for the year, using pieces there for inquiry reading and reflections;
One of our possible goals as a board is to develop and publish our own “resource” at Digital Is by the end of the year — this will help our board members experience the shift from users to producers of content, with a real audience;
Our annual conference in the fall will feature a keynote address around digital literacies, and connections to the Common Core curriculum;
We’re considering ways to support teachers around place-based digital storytelling ideas, with hopes of getting students across a wide range of communities to produce pieces that could be shared at a regional Digital Storytelling Showcase event;
And more …
It’s exciting to be on this path, and our WMWP Technology Team (we have about eight members of the team) will be the leaders of the inquiry initiative. And as it is the 20th anniversary of the WMWP site (which is quite an accomplishment), the idea of looking ahead to literacies as well as remembering our history is a balance we are striving to achieve.